Scholarly Standards

by Tom Palmer on July 31, 2008

StrangeloveBat.jpg

Bat Guano*

I’m in Germany and missed a staged demonstration by a couple dozen kooky anti-free-trade protesters outside the Cato Institute’s offices. But the “scholar Thomas DiLorenzo” did not. As he pointed out, in a display of his novel standards (“his sloppiness has earned him the abuse and ridicule of his critics“): “Recall that CNN dismissed Ron Paul as a crackpot for believing that any such highway exists. But of course, it does exist, and is even described on Wikipedia.” Right! It’s on the internet. Ergo….It’s true!!! Q.E.D.

DiLorenzo (whom I used to know many years ago, before he went off the far, far deep end, lost his connection to reality and evidence, and rejected individualism for racist collectivism) writes of an alleged conspiracy to connect Mexico and Canada and strip Americans of their jobs (rather like the warnings of “Jack D. Ripper* in Dr. Strangelove of “a Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids”). The tinfoil-hatted professor reminds us that it’s “even described on Wikipedia.” There you have it. It’s even described on Wikipedia.

Now, I hesitate to describe anyone as incompetent or lacking in capacities, but the same person asserted that the ugliness uncovered in the Ron Paul newsletters by a young journalist was obviously a set up, for “How on earth would a kid just out of college know to go to a library in Kansas, of all places, to dig up such stuff?” Maybe it was because the collections of libraries in Kansas are available on the internet, the same internet that has “an entry” on the alleged plot to sap Americans of their vital jobs.

I am reminded of seminars with undergraduates when occasionally 19-year-olds will say something odd and I ask “Why do you think that?,” to which they answer, “I saw it on the internet.”

Sad. Very sad.

*Correction: I had originally written “Bat Guano,” but Dan provided a useful correction. Thanks!

P.S. I did find a residue of the last DiLorenzo outburst at http://digg.com/political_opinion/CATO_Protesters_Tom_Palmer_has_a_sputtering_hate_fit But when you click on the link, you get
Not Found

The requested URL /blog/lewrw/archives/022229.html was not found on this server.

The link was here, as shown by the Google archives: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/022229.html

A Little Update: An internet troll (evidently the same “Francisco” who posted comments on Ron Paul support websites asserting, on the basis of “social networking theory” that I simply must have had an affair with a New Republic writer I had never met or had any contact with) has attempted to defend the undefendable in the long thread that follows. I can’t imagine any serious people being misled by it; a quick check of the links I provided in response should convince the unconvinced that there is something rotting on the fringes of the libertarian movement, something that denies its core principles and undermines its effectiveness. I leave it to readers to make up their minds for themselves. Click through to the links and see if what you find there represents your own self-understanding.

{ 59 comments }

Francisco August 3, 2008 at 11:45 am

The hollow “victory” declarations of your increasingly visible desperation aside, it is sufficient at the moment to determine the status of this discussion by simply recounting the three main points of contention thus far.

1. You assert that the Paul campaign was seriously harmed and damaged by the newsletter story…yet you cannot be bothered to produce one shred of empirical evidence to show any significant loss of support for his candidacy precipitated by the newsletter story.

2. You assert that you many adversaries in the Rockwell feud said “hateful” and “racist” things about Rosa Parks…yet you cannot produce anything more on them than a quoted Cedric the Entertainer joke at her expense.

3. You assert that a placement in time simply necessitates that late 19th century segregationist motives inspired the 1894 Mississippi flag…yet you cannot be bothered to produce any documented historical evidence of this beyond your own post hoc conjecture.

You are correct about one thing though. Somebody has indeed lost this debate, Tom. That person is you.

Anonymous August 3, 2008 at 12:01 pm

From Tom’s post above:

“reason: What do you think of Martin Luther King?

Paul: Martin Luther King is one of my heroes because he believed in nonviolence and that’s a libertarian principle. Rosa Parks is the same way. Gandhi, I admire. Because they’re willing to take on the government, they were willing to take on bad laws. So I believe in civil disobedience if you understand the consequences. Martin Luther King was a great person because he did that and he changed America for the better because of that.

reason: You didn’t write the derogatory things about him in the letter?

Paul: No
( http://www.reason.com/blog/show/124281.html )”

How deep or sincere is that admiration when Paul surrounds himself with people at Rockwell.com, publishes articles there, advertises his books there and is associated with their Mises institute? It’s not as if one or two quirky writers had an occasional lapse of judgment. DiLorenzo, Hoppe, Rockwell, North…and a bunch of other angry war-on-government anti-war — am I allowed to say demagogues?

A lot of people were interested in Paul’s candidacy and would prefer any improvement on what the Bush era has wrought. But Paul’s reliance on his friends in Auburn, Alabama, reduces his credibility to the zero range.

Francisco August 3, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Moving on to the particulars now…

1. You misstate my request, perhaps willfully, by suggesting that I require a regression as proof of the Paul campaign’s suffering from the newsletters. Aside from the fact that it is indeed theoretically possible to isolate a variable of that sort assuming the right data were available, I made no such request. Rather, I simply asked for empirical evidence to illustrate the alleged harm. Show me a decline in his polling, a precipitous dropoff in votes, a record of former supporters leaving him for other candidates in droves, something, anything. You’ve been given that opportunity many times over now, and yet you still produce…nothing. You assert the harm occurred yet you have nothing beyond your own anecdotal claims to prove it. Ergo, you lose.

2. For all your dancing and word wrangling about DiLorenzo and Rosa Parks, at the end of the day all you have is *still* a quoted Cedric the Entertainer joke. You’ve described that joke as everything from belittlement to “hateful” and “racist” attacks, much as you did when you first posted it years ago and found yourself widely ridiculed then by cooler heads, removed from your silly feud. The telltale sign of your hyperbole is that you deem it necessary to assign the attributes of “hate” and “racism” and all sorts of other horrible things to that quote as if such noxious and overplayed repetition somehow solidifies your original disputed characterization. One of the few fortunate things about instances of racial hate is that they are usually pretty easy to pick out, Tom. If somebody uses the n-word it is immediately noticed and rightly condemned. To borrow another unfortunate cliche, with racism you know it when you see it. The problem with your attack upon DiLorenzo though is that the average level-headed and dispassionate reader does *not* automatically know or see racism in the simple act of quoting a mainstream comedian’s joke at Rosa Parks’ expense…hence your need to repeat the characterizations you assign to it. But in the end of the day, one need only strip away your accompanying commentary to find that its hyperbole simply isn’t sustained in the original text, res ipsa loquitur.

3. Nowhere do I accuse you of calling for the invalidation of all laws passed under states of disenfranchisement. Rather, I simply pointed out that this is the logical consequence of your argument against the 1894 Mississippi flag when taken to its end. As of the present, that observation remains uncontested and thus one I stand by. Your second argument merits some consideration to the point that I will say this: you are treading dangerously close to the position that governing should be conducted by an arbitrary and fluid concept of supermajoritarianism. You have asserted in effect that a policy should be opposed if if “offends” and unspecified minority percentage of the society for reason of that alleged offense, have you not? My question then is where do we draw the line? How many “offended” people are enough to cause disfavor upon a policy? And how do we ever know that line has been crossed (aside from a chance coincidence to the whim of your personal feud with Rockwell)? This question is pertinent, because the Mississippi flag referendum was not even remotely contentious at the ballot box. It passed in a slam dunk, a landslide that was readily acknowledged by both sides. If such a lopsided political victory fails your seemingly arbitrary test of political offensiveness, that does not bode well for the far more contentious and evenly divided disputes of everyday government in this country.

Deny, deny, deny to your heart’s content, Tom, but these and other pertinent issues continue to plague your arguments in this discussion. I see you’ve taken to avoiding them of late by disparaging me personally, as seems to be your style. I expected nothing less and consider it a welcome badge of honor to have invoked a mention in the lead from your ire. But all of that is little more than a diversion from the points of argument I have raised, and taken on their merits outside of the personality disputes that seem to trail you wherever you go, you’re losing every one.

Have a nice day though.

Francisco August 3, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Nicolas – Thank you for the question, as it is one that I am happy to provide an answer. Being that libertarianism is well within the political minority, I am usually content to tolerate a coincidence of political agreement with non-libertarian groups where they happen to exist. Even a broken and utterly statist clock, such as the ACLU or NAACP, can be right twice a day, and for that I see no harm if they end up on the correct side of an issue. Note however that their support for that issue in no way alters its material susbtance.

That said, will you do the favor of obliging a question of my own now? If a good, sound, and correct libertarian policy position was being credibly considered before the courts, a legislature, a committee of congress or something of the sort, and in doing so had drawn the backing of Rockwell and the Mises Institute, do you believe that Tom Palmer would briefly put aside his decades-old feud with them and support said effort because of agreement on the policy end itself aside from their past differences?

Because I do not think he would do so. In fact, I think his hatred for the Mises crowd has reached a level of irreparable separation in which even the most natural points of policy agreement with them are precluded by emotional hysterics of the type that he has seen fit to litter all over this discussion.

And that is the reason I maintain that the larger libertarian movement is being materially harmed by Palmer’s role in and continuation of this silly feud.

Anonymous August 3, 2008 at 1:46 pm

“asserting, on the basis of â??social networking theoryâ? that I simply must have had an affair with a New Republic writer I had never met or had any contact with”

An affair, Tom?

I believe the original suggestion was little more than the documented fact that James Kirchick frequents the social circles of Beltway libertarianism.

I’ll forgive you for your Freudian slip though.

Anonymous August 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Dear Blank at 1:46 PM,

How magnanimous of you to forgive what you see as a Freudian slip amidst all the rumors and innuendo. Glory be to God that you don’t believe stoning might be in order.

Anonymous

Neo-Classical Libertarian August 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Francisco is, quite simply, a liar. GO AND READ THE POSTS ABOUT ROSA PARKS. It’s not merely one quotation from some offbeat and tasteless comedian. It’s a string of mean and spiteful comments from the racist vermin around Lew Rockwell, who hated Rosa Parks because she was a black woman who didn’t do what she was told. Here is Tom’s post with the evidence

http://www.tomgpalmer.com/archives/026647.php

Read it and see if you don’t get sick.

I attended two Mises Institute events and I was appalled at the behavior, including racist jokes and comments from organizers. The intellectual intolerance was also amazing, but not surprising when I realized what motivated them. Say something nice about the theories of Milton Friedman, George Stigler, or Gary Becker and you were hissed at and called a Communist. That was 7 years ago. I would not go to one of their events if you paid me ten million dollars. (Ok, I might, but only for the money and under a pseudonym and disguise.)

Give it up, Francisco; you’re a shill for Lew Rockwell sent over to make the comment thread so long no one can follow it.

Tom, you should close this thread. There’s plenty for people to make up their own minds, without letting lying shills like Francisco just raise one phony pseudoissue after another.

DiLorenzo is scum. I could tell that when I heard his lectures. Not much depth, but a lot of invective.

F August 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Neo-Classical Libertarian: I’ve always found it beautifully ironic to be the target of booing, hissing, intellectual intolerance, venomous name-calling, lying, shilling, and invective – all of which are on full display in your previous post – when it is coming from somebody who is simultaneously engaged in the act of complaining about others who he purports to do the same.

Thank you, sir, for amply demonstrating that the emperor has no clothes (though I might add you probably exposed a little too much of the venomous underbelly of your clique for the tastes of all here save your patron).

Tom G. Palme August 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm

I think that Neo-Classical has a point. I will close this thread, which has become lost in so much smoke thrown up by one cultist, with the text of the DiLorenzo blog post that was dropped down the memory hole (just as others have been, when found inconvenient, or changed to deflect criticism):

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/022229.html

August 01, 2008
Those Wacky CATO Protesters
Posted by Thomas DiLorenzo at August 1, 2008 10:52 AM

A few emailers have alerted me to the fact that CATO’s vice president for global junketeering,Tom Palmer, has apparently descended into one of his sputtering hate fits over my blog yesterday about the ragtag group of protesers at CATO. (Palmer, who has never had an academic job, has never written a book or pubished a peer-reviewed academic article, and took about 20 years to get a terminal degree, apparently struts around as some kind of high priest of academe and denounces me as “unscholarly” for linking to a Wikipedia entry on this blog. Scandalous!).

The protesters were protesting Cato’s support of NAFTA, and are apparently opposed as well to the building of the I-69 highway from Mexico to Canada. As is his custom, Palmer lies through his teeth about what I’ve said. I never said I opposed this particular Cato-supported socialist road-building project, only that the protesters don’t like it.

Unfortunatley, the rent-a-mob that showed up at Smearbund Central yesterday is grossly uneducated. They protest NAFTA because they mistakenly believe it is “free trade.” But as the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s James Sheehan showed more than a decade ago, it consists of hundreds of pages of legalese that constitutes “managed” or centrally planned trade. Genuine free trade would only require one sentence prohibiting all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, period.
—-

I agree that NAFTA is not free trade, but it did represent freer trade, and that’s a good thing. I prefer unilateral approaches, which, as Razeen Sally of the LSE has shown, has produced most of the trade liberalization in recent years, anyway. I think I’ve responded adequately to the cultist’s posts; racism is a bad thing, vicious mudslinging about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks is racist, and association with racist collectivism harms libertarianism, which is a philosophy of equal individual rights. And on to the least important of all, DiLorenzo’s account of my intellectual history is, shall we say, untrue, but it’s not worth getting that far into the mud with him. I’ll just leave it at that.

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